Originally published April 15, 2017.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse recently was recently a speaker at Together for the Gospel, and he discussed the current disruption we’re living through.
His focus was not on technology or the “creative disruption” that comes to mind when we think about companies such as Tesla, Apple, and Amazon.
Rather, he discussed the current work “crisis” that’s going on.
He mentioned the study of a social scientist that found the four key aspects that affect happiness:
- Community (which he describes more as a group of friends or support group)
He really emphasizes No. 4.
“Do they have a calling? This is a broad sense of work. This is vocation,” Sasse says. “It is a Reformation category that (Martin) Luther would understand well. Do you have work? When you leave home on Monday morning, are you going somewhere where you believe that people will benefit from the work that you do?”
Here are a few statistics that he mentions are affecting work and our overall lives today.
-About 30 percent of children now are growing up in families without their father at home, a massive increase in the past 30 years.
-In 1990, the average American had 3.5 friends. Today, the average American has 1.8 friends. (This definition of “friends” focuses on people who truly know you and care about you, not an average Facebook friend you “likes” your posts sometimes.)
-The average duration of a job has been consistently getting shorter. In the mid 1970s, it was about 30. Now it’s less than four years.
Sasse is not saying here that we should only be committed to one “calling” or job in life. In fact, he notes that many fears during the transition from an agricultural to industrial economy were overstated. Many feared the disruption that would occur would uproot society and degrade it.
Perhaps some fears today are also overstated. By no means should we feel that we’re required to have only one vocation in life. I’ve met people who have been successful business people, missionaries, and then taken a different job later in life.
However, there is much to be said about faithfulness and sticking to a job.
It is possible that you noticed the average number of friends an American has and that you think that you have many more friends than 1.8.
Count yourself blessed if you do. I certainly have many more friends than that, and I have large support groups of friends and family that love me unconditionally.
Yet I personally often work with people who have no one. Some people cannot keep a job because they don’t even have one friend who will drive them to work if their car breaks down. Some people don’t know what to put in a questionnaire that asks “closest relationship” or “who to call in case of an emergency.”
There are more people like that than you may think. Most of us, if not all of us, live in some sort of bubble. You may not know many people like that, but believe me, there are probably people like that who may live less than a mile away from you.
Please consider that reality and couple it together with the concept of fulfilling work in which you can help someone else.
After all, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35).